Monday, July 18, 2022

Comics Review: SAMURAI SONJA #1


STORY: Jordan Clark
ART: Pasquale Qualano and Miriana Puglia
COLORS: Kike J. Diaz
LETTERS: Jeff Eckleberry
EDITOR: Nate Cosby
COVER: Lucio Parrillo
VARIANT COVER ARTISTS: Leslie “Leirex” Li; Clayton Henry; Paulina Ganucheau; John McCrea; Johnny Desjardins; Ariel Diaz; Erik Klaus; Lucio Parrillo; Rachel Hollon and @dead_shot_photo (cosplay)
32pp, Color, $3.99 U.S. (June 2022)

Rated Teen+

Based on the characters and stories created by Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Robert E. Howard

Conan the Barbarian #23 (cover dated: February 1973) saw the debut of a high fantasy, sword and sorcery heroine, Red Sonja.  Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith, Red Sonja was loosely based on “Red Sonya of Rogatino,” a female character that appeared in the 1934 short story, “The Shadow of the Vulture,” written by Robert E. Howard (1906-1936), the creator of the character, Conan the Cimmerian.

Dynamite Entertainment is now the publisher of Red Sonja comic books, and it publishes a number of titles featuring alternate versions of the character.  The latest is Samurai Sonja, Volume 1.  It is written by Jordan Clark; drawn by Pasquale Qualano and Miriana Puglia; colored by Kike J. Diaz; and lettered by Jeff Eckleberry.  This series introduces a brand new Sonja whose adventures are set in feudal Japan.

Samurai Sonja, Volume 1 #1 opens in the Sengoku period of Japan (1467-1615).  It is a time of near-constant civil war.  Sonja, daughter of a slain samurai, is eager to prove herself worthy of her family's glorious name and history.

In a desperate moment, Sonja makes an awful deal with a dreaded sea goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, agreeing to become her champion.  Gifted with magical armor and weapons capable of slaying mythical beasts, Sonja must take on the demon shogun, Shuten Doji.  If she falls in battle, her bloodline and family's name will be erased.

THE LOWDOWN:   Since July 2021, the marketing department of Dynamite Entertainment has been providing me with PDF review copies of some of their titles.  One of them is Samurai Sonja, Volume 1 #1, one of many Red Sonja-related comic books that I have read.

I enjoyed Samurai Sonja.  Jordan Clark offers a story that is essentially a Japanese spin on a Red Sonja adventure.  This time, however, he grounds her fate in family and legacy.  This comes across, at least to me, as more consequential than the usual Red Sonja tale.  I like that the story will feature “yokai” (creatures of Japanese myth and lore) of which the 2013 movie, 47 Ronin (remember that one), could have used more.

The art team of illustrators Pasquale Qualano and Miriana Puglia and colorist Kike J. Diaz present some pretty art.  They also move the story at an easy pace, allowing the new concepts to ingratiate themselves with the readers.  This new take on Red Sonja is not offensive, and it looks to be quite an interesting new angle in the saga of Red Sonja.

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Red Sonja will want to try Samurai Sonja, Volume 1.

[This comic book includes “Dynamite Dispatch” June 2022, which features an interview with writer Christopher Priest.]


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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